Monday, July 31, 2006

I hate dieting

I want to eat whatever I want, whenever I want. There, I said it.

This morning I didn't want to get out of bed - but once I was on the road, I was okay. I met Liz for a couple-hour bike ride; we rode around Lake Sammamish the easy way (south on East Lake Samm, north through Bellevue, then we rode around Redmond for a bit). It was a fun ride (gorgeous morning - surprisingly cool, though! It feels like fall!). I probably don't need to ride as hard as we did - especially since my knees were bothering me, despite high cadence - but it's just too fun.

I should probably be doing running speed work, though...but that's just not as exciting as flying alongside the lake. (Although, my poor bike: yesterday's ride was in rain, then sun, then rain again, and it's COVERED in mud and I didn't even take it out of the van, let alone wash it!)

So anyway, my eating is not so good today. Let's document it!

Pre-workout: I had a VitaTop with me, but I went to a different Starbucks and I really wanted the reduced-fat banana coffee cake, so I had that instead. Bad bad me. So that plus my coffee was 350 cals!
Post-workout: More excuses...basically, I ate a cookie. 200 cals
Breakfast: Three slices ham, cheese: 155 cals
Lunch: Chicken noodle soup, slices of pork: 250 cals
total so far: 955 calories

Dinner was okay - salmon, jasmine rice and broccoli. But I also ate:
-- a cookie
-- some chips
-- a couple of fortune cookies with Nutella
-- two little candies

So, um, I'm not attempting to count this up, because I know it was way over. I am also furious with myself. I don't know why I couldn't control myself today! I'm going to blame it on the time of the month coming, forgive myself, and move on. Hopefully.

Bike ride, 1 hour 45 minutes - 700 calories burned

Sunday, July 30, 2006

A ride with my guy

Okay, today's post title doesn't rhyme as well as yesterday's.

Anyway, I planned a 35-mile route with a stop at the Black Diamond Bakery, a local institution in the middle of nowhere. The route out there is quite hilly, and I wanted to go between 16 and 18 on flats. Well, there pretty much are no flats on the way there, so I was going 16-18 on slight inclines, and the hubby (John) wasn't too psyched about that. We were also with a guy on a recumbent bicycle - I wasn't sure he'd be able to keep up.

Well, I slowed down a bit for the hubby, and recumbent guy was faster than John anyway! So, we didn't quite average what I wanted, but my HR was higher than usual anyway - likely due to the long run yesterday, plus John and I ran all over the Microsoft campus putting up signs for his business for two hours - and yes that is a workout. In a building, up to the top floor, find the kitchen, post sign, then work our way down each floor. And no, the kitchens aren't always in a consistent place in the building, so once you find one on a floor, it might not be there on the floor below. 60 signs and two hours later, we were exhausted. But I digress...

We ate donuts and yummy things at the bakery (John even had a moche breve - oh my goodness. For those of you not in the know, "breve" means HALF AND HALF. An entire 16 ounces of HALF AND HALF. What's that, 900 calories for the darn thing? I had a sip. It was delicious), then we got our real reward: the next 8 or so miles were entirely downhill. Not steep downhill, but enough that you can fly at 26-27 mph without a lot of effort. Fun! We all stayed together on that part.

Towards the end we lost John on the last steep uphill part; apparently his blood sugar got low despite the breve and donuts and he had to stop and eat - a Clif Bar and a Luna Bar - and then when he did reach the end of the road that has the hill (we'd been waiting for about five minutes), he flew past us and to the little store nearby where he bought and chugged a Coke. Something about that hill - that was where he got low last time. Anyone out there an endurance athlete and diabetic who can give me some advice on how to help John manage his blood sugar on longer rides? (He's type 1, insulin-dependent, and on Lantus and Humalog, no pump.)

In all, though, it was fun, and John wasn't mad at me for the times I just had to ride ahead - mostly to take advantage of long shallow downhill slopes where I could get in the aeros and cruise. And oh my goodness, I had no idea a recumbent bike could go where we went and do what we did - there were a few good climbs, and yet we couldn't lose the recumbent guy if we tried! (Not that we did, but I just thought it would happen, and frankly, I think he did too.)

Saturday, July 29, 2006

A run with my son!

Yeah, he's six. And yeah, I had 10 miles on my schedule - the first run aimed at marathon training, not triathlon. (For the remainder of the season, I need to overlap purposes: long runs on the weekend aimed at the marathon, but I still have to swim and bike for the few remaining triathlons I'm going to do.)

So...I picked a route that was along a paved bike trail the entire way. It's hilly, but the climbs are short and always rewarded with a downhill. And I told him there was no whining allowed.

I met up with Aleks and Latosha and we were off! And amazingly, Gabriel (my son) was perfect. He asked how far ahead he could ride, and he stopped and waited for us to catch up at every point I specified. On most of the hills on the way out, he just powered up (out of the saddle...oh, to have those little strong legs and be able to climb like that! On a heavy, single-speed bike with knobby tires, too).

On the way back, a couple of times he had some trouble climbing the hills, so I ran alongside him with my hand on his back to help push a little. But he really didn't whine, which was all I could ask for - and when we were done, he said, "Next time, can we do 11 miles?" Isn't it cool that I can share my training with my kid? What a cool guy. I'm such a lucky mom.

So I've got to think of safe routes that will be good for my running plus fun for him. This doesn't actually remove the need for babysitting from me, since my three-year-old daughter still requires care, but it's so much easier on my husband to only have one kid at a time, and so exciting for me to watch Gabriel push hard and have fun exercising! He told me today he wants to do an Ironman...and can't I take him swimming more?

We did 10 miles in under 1:40; my watch said 1:40 exactly, but I stopped to use the potty half-way through and we had a couple of other brief stops too. 10-minute miles right now is a good pace for me for training runs; I won't set a time goal for New York, since it's so chaotic and fun (from what I have read - no first-hand knowledge yet!). I just want to enjoy it in something around 4 hours or so.

Friday, July 28, 2006

Another triathlon friday

Today my friend Sarah joined me on my triathlon Friday workout. Except she doesn't have a wetsuit, so she made me swim without too!

It was a much colder morning than it has been - probably in the high 50's , low 60's, but the water was super-warm, so it actually was fine. We didn't swim very long - just about 20 minutes - and it's definitely harder work to swim without a full wetsuit than with. But I'm starting to think about what my plan will be for Danskin, and after today's comfortable swim, I might not wear a wetsuit. It's an entire month from now, and it's typically pretty warm. I'm wondering if the time I would save by not having a wetsuit to take off (or running in a wetsuit, for that matter) would make up for the slightly-slower swim. I wonder how much slower my swim would be? I know from today's subsequent ride and run that my legs aren't really impacted for a sprint-distance by having to work a little harder on the swim.

So then we rode about 20 miles in a little over an hour, I think - I didn't actually check my bike computer. On the way out we rode around 19-20 mph, but on the way back we hit a headwind and slowed to 15-16, I think. That was some work! Then we ran for 15 minutes, and Sarah made me sprint uphill at the end. For the first time in forever, I actually ran out of breath! My heart rate was just 179, so I know there was cardio room to go, but man, it was hard. And felt really good when we were done and stretching.

Okay, so meal-tracking. Yesterday was pretty good, except for the sugar-full green tea mistake. Today I'm determined to be better.

Pre-workout: VitaTop, milk in coffee: 130 cals
Workout fuel: 1/2 PowerBar trail mix bar, 125 cals
Breakfast: English muffin, ham, cheese, cottage cheese, nectarine: 410 cals
Lunch: Chicken burrito (hungry!): 565 cals
Chocolate craving: 80 cals (there was a new kind of chocolate today! Had to try it, but wanted the regular too.)
Snack: String cheese, 60 cals
Total so far: 1370 cals

20 min swim
1 hour 15 min bike
15 min run
Calories burned: ~ 1000 (pink HR monitor still broken, still need to send to Polar)

Thursday, July 27, 2006

Eat chocolate, or...

Question for anyone with an opinion: Every afternoon, after I eat lunch, I crave chocolate. The administrative assistant for my group has chocolate (those little ones, 40 calories each). Should I eat one? It doesn't usually lead to more...or should I eat something else sweet to get rid of the craving?

If I don't take care of this monster, it stays with me - it doesn't appear to be easily scared off. It's been more than two hours since I had a healthy lunch and I still REALLY WANT CHOCOLATE.


I didn't swim today - I wasn't really going to swim hard anyway, but I did want to support my friend Michelle who was open-water swimming for the first time this season. Well, I saw a woman training a kid, and I guessed that it was Jill Fry - a local elite who works out at the same gym I do and is also a triathlon coach - I know quite a few of her athletes. So I said hi to her - we've emailed a few times - and we ended up talking after her son got out of the water for nearly an hour.

She is so incredible - she started out doing the Danskin and has qualified for and raced in Kona, plus she won the Issaquah Sprint Triathlon this summer and consistently places high in her races. So it was wonderful to talk to her - she's just full of information and training strategy. She really makes me believe that with the right training, timing, and belief in myself, I could achieve much higher goals than I've ever thought I'd set for myself.

The question for me is, what should it be? Top 10% in a competitive sprint? Placing in my age group? Completing an Ironman? Completing an Ironman in, say, 13 hours? Or 12? I plan to take the marathon season to think about this and set some hard but reachable goals.

So, this isn't the post I meant to write. I meant to write about what it was like to wake up at 4:25, really not want to get out of bed, then to start feeling more awake as I got in the car and started my drive. It was 4:40 a.m. and still dark - completely dark - whereas in the past few weeks, it's been already getting light. As I drove by the doughnut shop I used to stop in every morning to get my coffee - and not a doughnut, can't eat that stuff before a run - I could almost smell those delicious pastries, and I was filled with nostalgia for last fall's marathon training. I remember how charged up I felt every morning, how purposeful, and how excited to start that day's run and see how much farther or faster or stronger I could run.

This wasn't a sad sort of nostalgia - it actually made me happy to be awake at 4:40 a.m. and on my way to meet my running partners. I'm just about to start the same thing again - this weekend I have my first long run that has the purpose of marathon training as opposed to half-Ironman training - and I'm pretty psyched about it.

Anyway. On another note, it's time to start meal-tracking again. I've been slacking HARD since, well, before I went to Germany. And my jeans are telling me that it's not a great idea to continue unless I want a new, larger wardrobe. So here goes:

Pre-workout: Vita-top, milk in coffee: 130 cals
Breakfast: English muffin, ham, cheese, milk in coffee: 280 cals
Lunch: Salad with turkey: 250 cals
Snack: Yogurt, 110 cals
Snack: String cheese, 60 cals
Dinner: Chicken breast, whole-wheat pasta with tomato sauce, green beans: 700 cals
Mistakes! I thought I got the diet Lipton green tea with citrus...but it was the regular - and I drank TWO of them today! That's 320 extra calories! MAN!

Total for the day: 1850 cals. Really unfortunate.

Run 70 minutes
Core 15 minutes
Swim...uh, not really :-)
Calories burned: ~600 (HR monitor wasn't set for me; my pink Polar died, need to send it in for service)

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Biking the lake at high cadence

This spinning thing...I think it's working!

I did most of the route around Lake Sammamish today keeping my cadence above 90 (except when chatting with my girls Aleks and those times we might have been pedaling 12 mph flat at 60-70 cadence, who knows. Sometimes you have to just enjoy it. Better we be pedaling slowly than drinking fruity girly drinks in a bar, right?). It always starts out hard to get the cadence that high...then it gets easier. Then it gets too easy and I get to shift...sometimes even into my big ring!

I checked a couple of times to see what my pace was...up the shallow grade at the end it was over 19. Good. A couple of weeks ago when I "raced" that guy around this side of the lake, I managed 24, but I was pushing really hard and I wasn't willing to do that this week. I'm still in theory trying to recover and take it easy.

So no pain or problems on the bike and I was able to fly some of the time. After I conquer this cadence thing, the next step is to get me to do it in the aero bars. For some reason I still really want to mash in the aeros - perhaps a proper fit of the aero bars would help. I'm pretty dumb for not doing it. I have to remind myself that a bike fit isn't just about fixing pain; it's about producing power, and it's possible I'm not in the best possible place to do that.

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

A tentative start back

I'm not exactly sure how long I should allow myself to "recover" - I know that one of the signs that I'm ready to work out is the desire to work out, and man I wanted to go today when the heat finally broke and I walked outside (to go to the gym), saw a friend coming back to the office from a run, and felt like I needed to run, too. So I decided to do a 5-mile loop that I enjoy. Unfortunately for me, Microsoft is doing construction all around the entrance to a trail that's part of my loop, so I was detoured around and had to stay in the sun longer than I planned. The run took me 57 minutes and was about 5.5 miles long, maybe a little less - but I had to stop at traffic lights, etc. I felt like I was running a 10-minute pace.

I was very aware of my glutes on this run - they're pretty much the only muscle that still feels like I did something on Sunday. But "awareness" isn't quite pain, so I was happy.

I had planned to lift weights too, but I reconsidered that. I'll start back lifting on Thursday. I want to rest and recover and recharge and then just play the rest of the season. :-)

Monday, July 24, 2006

The day after

My head is still full of the race, but now it's all about the joy of having done it. I keep thinking about the first time I ever heard of a triathlon. My co-worker had her race number from Danskin up on her wall in her office. I was amazed that anyone could swim, bike, and run all in the same day. I also remember how when I was a kid, I wanted to lose weight, so I would go to the 1/4 mile track at the college down the street from my house and try to run a mere quarter-mile! I couldn't do it! I might have done it ONCE in my life before I stepped onto that treadmill in March of 2004 and decided I was going to run. And now I've done this. I'm amazed that this is me!

So how do I feel today? Great. Completely happy with everything, frankly - the way my race went, the way my body feels, the way I feel about myself, and even non-race related things, like the way I feel about my family and my job. It's like a low-key runner's high keeping me calm and peaceful. We'll see how long this lasts. :-)

But seriously, I have slight muscle pain in my quads and glutes. My neck and back could stand for some good stretching. There's an abrasion around my neckline from my tri top, but it doesn't hurt. In fact, what hurts the most is my belly button. The tie from my tri shorts rubbed me raw there, and that actually is painful. But a cute sort of pain - the kind you earn and wear like a badge of honor.

Given how good I feel, one of my co-workers remarked that I didn't race hard enough. That might be true; I definitely know where I have room to improve. But that's why there's next time, right? And there will definitely be a next time. In fact: I am now even more certain that I must do an Ironman. I really wish it could be next year; I'm primed. John is still very much not into the idea, and I understand why...and I know I should just wait until Camille is in kindergarten and both kids have a good schedule going. But I want to now! I'm excited for it now! I'm cocky enough and determined enough to do it now! So...I probably have to wait until 2008. But Coeur d'Alene and Canada are calling out to me...Coeur d'Alene still has spots available, Danielle is going up to Canada to sign up when registration opens, so I know I can go with her...but I need the hubby to buy in first. And I just don't think it's going to happen this year.

Sunday, July 23, 2006

Lake Stevens 70.3 Race Report

It's hard to figure out what to say when your "A" race is over.

I feel like I should ascribe some sort of deep meaning to it - like, this was about overcoming obstacles or breaking new ground or pushing boundaries - but those cliches really don't hold any truth for why I spent the last six months training and what this was about to me.

In all honesty, I did it because I could. And I enjoyed it because I did. It's that simple. When I started to consider doing a 70.3 event, a friend told me I'd better make sure I knew why I was doing it, because when it came down to training hard, pushing my body beyond what I'd made it do before, I'd want to give up - and in those moments, I needed to have a reason to continue.

Well, I can't really think of a reason, other than to stay fit and have fun. Since I achieved both of those goals, I was successful.

And even if my results weren't what they are, I would still think I was successful. But I have to be damn proud of what I did today and how my body performed.

So, first, the setup: Danielle and I drive in 98-degree weather to Lake Stevens (average high temperature in the summer: 80). We pick up our packets and discover the race directors changed the plan: we can rack our bikes Saturday! So we did, then left Lake Stevens to eat a HUGE dinner at the Olive Garden (we couldn't even eat dessert we ate so much other food).

We stayed in a hotel fairly close to the race site. Upon checking in at 9 p.m., we spent about an hour preparing our transition bags, filling water bottles, and loading up our race belts with GU and, for me, Jelly Belly Sport Beans. We were in bed and asleep by 10.

I woke up at 3:47 a.m. and allowed myself to stay in bed until the horrible alarm went off at 4. We got up, I showered and made coffee, and found that we'd been sleeping in a 54-degree room! (It was lovely under the blankets, but sucked to get out of bed).

I ate most of a bagel with Nutella (because Danielle told me the Tour de France riders required it, and I figured it was better than peanut butter) and a banana, and of course my morning coffee. With a bottle of water each to sip on, we took off to Lake Stevens.

We arrived about 5:25 a.m., got great parking, and began the first of at least 7 trips to the porta-potty. Each. I don't know what it is about race morning, but I go at least as many times as I go all week before I race. But that's good, I guess.

We set up our transition stations (we were both really close to each other, and the porta-potty) and didn't do any of the pre-race warmup that I had wanted to do: no testing of our bikes, no jog, no jump in the water and swim. I hadn't been nervous, but at 6:48, as the race director was calling all athletes out of transition and down to the water, and I was still in the potty line, my eyes just filled with tears. To look at all those hard-core looking athletes, with those amazing bikes, and to think that I could be in their company - who the hell was I? What was I thinking?

A kind woman in the porta-potty line said something to me to calm me down, and Danielle and I walked down to the water. The race director had announced that the water was 77 degrees - this was worrisome to me, but I couldn't spend too much time thinking about it. He also had announced that it was going to be a hot day - no morning cloud cover like the previous day. Thanks.

As a last-minute random thing, I bought No Fog stuff for goggles. I hadn't trained with it, but I figured, if it works, great, and if it doesn't, well, my goggles usually fog up, what could be worse?

I put my goggles on before the first wave even started at 7 a.m.; my wave was at 7:06. No fog! And amazingly, I didn't have any fog for the entire swim.

It was a deep-water swim start; we jumped off the end of a dock and treaded water until the gun went off. I pretty much knew I was going to have a perfect swim (for me) right from the beginning. People spread out so much so quickly that most of the time, I felt almost alone in the water. The few times that people bumped me or I bumped people I didn't even miss a stroke (even the one time towards the end where it felt like someone was pulling me under by my legs - I kicked and swam away). The swim was really uneventful; I caught up pretty quickly to the stragglers from the previous wave, but a few minutes later the fast folks from the following wave overtook me - and later, some of those doing the Olympic (shorter swim, duh) overtook me too. But no big deal - I just kept a nice, straight line, an even stroke, and felt good the whole way. And warm - I could definitely feel the sun on the back of my wetsuit, and the second half of the swim was slightly uncomfortable with the warm water and full suit. But it was my choice to go with full buoyancy instead of a cooler swim, and given the results, I think I made the right choice.

Swim time: 40:13

I felt like I was really taking my time in T1, but my time says 2:14. I guess that's because the transition area was just so close to the water. I took off the wetsuit (I didn't even have enough time while running from the water to get it off both arms!), put socks, shoes, helmet, and race belt on and was off. I realized while in the water that I never took my cycling gloves out of my transition bag (to get them ready), but I decided not to get them - another good decision (I only wanted them for the extra padding for my hands, but I didn't need it at all).

I had a strategy for the bike. It is a 28-mile loop, rolling hills with a couple of steeper climbs - but everything steep is fairly short. My strategy was that for the first loop, I would take it slow and keep my heart rate around 150. I also decided I would switch my computer to show cadence, not mph. This was a fabulous decision. I shifted around to keep my cadence above 90, and was paid the ultimate compliment of the day on the first loop when a guy passed me, "Hey, great job! You're spinning just like Lance!" Me! Spinning, not mashing! Yay!

My nutrition plan was to eat three PowerBars and drink water with Nuun. I also had endurolytes in my Bento Box. I started eating around mile 4, and pretty much every time I was going uphill or flat I took a bite. I also drank pretty much constantly - I had my aero bottle plus two more 25-ounce bottles with me, and when I would drain the aero bottle, I took one of the other bottles and dumped it into the aero bottle. I did make one mistake: I couldn't fit the entire tube of Nuun in my Bento Box, so I just brought along two extra tablets. Well, the dampness of my half-eaten PowerBar in the box caused the Nuun to start dissolving, so eventually I just had to dump both partially-dissolved tablets and go with plain water. I thought if I started to cramp, I'd start taking the endurolytes. But I never did.

At mile 14, there was a water bottle station - unfortunately the girls manning the station weren't close enough to the road for me to take the bottle while still in motion, so I had to stop briefly to give them an empty bottle and take a full one. Then at mile 28, there was supposed to be another water station, but there were so many people lining the street and people waving and shouting that I got kind of freaked out and I thought I was going the wrong way, then I realized what those people were shouting about but by then I wasn't ready to transfer a bottle, so I just went on without. It was okay - I had a full aero bottle and one additional 25-ounce bottle then, so I knew I could make it 14 miles to get more water.

Um, something stupid I did: there's a right turn you have to make to stay on course towards the end, and I almost missed it because a car was turning right, and I didn't think cars should be going where I was going. But I recovered and re-passed the folks who passed me when I made the widest right turn ever.

I did the first loop in 1:38 or so; I was hoping to negative-split the ride, since I was so conservative going out. Alas, around mile 35 I realized I had to pee. Very, very much. (I also started experiencing the knee pain I had on STP last weekend, but I told my knee very firmly that I was spinning today, not mashing, and the pain had no right to intrude on my good bike ride, so go away right now. And it did.) But about peeing, I thought about waiting until I was in the transition area after the bike, since the porta-potty was so close to my transition space, and I seriously tried to go while on the bike. But I couldn't do it. I decided at mile 40 that I was going to stop at mile 42 - the water station - and pee in the porta-potty there.

I jumped off my bike at the porta-potty and seriously peed for more than a minute (yes, I timed it. Yay heart rate monitors!). But when I came out, a lovely man came up to me with a pitcher and asked if he could refill my aero bottle! A girl gave me a second bottle for my cage and I was off, and now I had people to pass since my two or three minutes stopped gave them opportunity to catch me.

The rest of the ride was so much better once I peed. It made a huge difference in my focus and concentration. Seriously.

Let's see, other random things that happened on the bike (not exactly sure when these things happened, it's already a blur):

-- I dropped my chain twice, both times on the second loop (once towards the beginning, once around mile 52, darn it)
-- My max speed achieved was 44 mph, but I'm not sure where, since I was monitoring cadence
-- I did get to ride in my big ring a lot, despite the cadence rule (above 90!)
-- On most steep hills, I passed people. On most steep downhills, I either got passed while going down or right after. However, when there were good rollers, I often kept enough momentum to get most of the way up the next hill without working.
-- I nearly crashed looking at my front tire because I was sure it was flat. I was able to catch myself before the fall, but my HR went up 10 bpm for a while. It wasn't flat. It never was. In fact, my bike performed perfectly - the operator could still learn a few things about shifting out of her big ring, but the bike did its job beautifully today.
-- I loved passing people on way better bikes than mine. I kept thinking about Lance saying, "It's not about the bike." That said, I'd love to have a beautiful Cervelo. :-)

Bike time: 3:23:03 (so no negative split - 1:38 approx for loop 1; 1:45 for loop 2. But that included the almost-fall, the dropped chain x2, and the potty stop. So maybe it would have negative split; who knows.) My bike computer says this was an average of 16.2 mph.

The run. Ah, the run. By now it was up in the 90s with no cloud cover. I didn't have a fast transition; I went to the porta-potty again, so did it in 2:17. I switched to running shoes, dumped the helmet, put on a visor and my fuel belt, and was off. I carried in my hand a little tube of sunscreen which I slathered on my arms and shoulders during the first mile, then wasn't sure what to do with the darn thing. Then I remembered I had a pocket in the back of my tri suit (DUH - I'd been using it for my PowerBar garbage on the bike, you'd think I would have remembered) and I stuck it in there.

The race email we got a few days before the race said the run course was "fast and flat." Sure, if you don't include ALL OF THE HILLS! You do the course twice: there's a loop where you go uphill longer than you go downhill, then you go up over a freaking mountain (okay, fine, just a hill), all the way back down the other side, then back up just to go back down again. Then you do it again.

I was feeling fine. Nothing hurt - no muscle, no joint, no knees, no tummy, no cramping, NOTHING. But I didn't want to run. I just didn't. And for a while, I couldn't make myself do it - especially when the silly little shuffle I was doing let me talk myself into believing I was more effective walking than running anyway. So I walked - probably for 1.5 miles or so - and a 60-something year old Ironman named Paul egged me on to run again, so when I hit the downhill part of the loop, I did. And from there, I pretty much only walked water stations with a couple of short exceptions. The damage was done; I was on a 12-minute mile pace and I didn't care too much. I'd done the math, I would definitely come in before 7 hours, so why did it matter?

Well, I came down the first little hill at the end of the loop and saw my car (that my husband had driven up in) parked on the side of the road, and then I came into town and saw all the people cheering and so happy for me, that I just said to myself, you better run, girl. This isn't a walking race.

But man, running up that hill was torture! However, running back from the turn-around point wasn't so bad - it's shorter in that direction - and an angel of a woman who lives at the very top of the hill came outside to hose off the runners. It was lovely. She stayed out there for a long time, too - she was still there when I came back up the hill the next two times. There was another place on the course where volunteers were spraying down runners with a hose - oh it felt great. Also, there was actually a breeze - and more shade than I expected! So really, I have nothing to complain about. It was hot, hotter than I'd trained in (maybe next year I shouldn't do all my training runs at 5 a.m.?), but I still felt good.

Around mile 7.5 or 8 I started to get cramps. I had been eating whenever I felt like it, which wasn't as much as I probably should have, but I'd already had one packet of Jelly Bellys and one GU. I opened a second packet of Jelly Bellys and walked until I'd eaten them all. (I was drinking both water with Nuun from my race belt and plain water at every water station - plus taking a second cup of water-station water and dumping it somewhere on my body - shoulders, head, neck, back). I guess the salt in the Jelly Bellys worked, because the cramps went away as quickly as they came on.

I think around there was also when I began to really feel fatigue, mostly in my quads. My knees started to protest again, but I told them to be quiet and they could have their pain later, when I was done.

I had seen Danielle when I was around mile 6; I guessed she was around two miles behind. It's not that I wanted to beat her in the race - it's not about that at all. But I definitely used her behind me as motivation to keep going. If I had walked more, she would have caught me, and I would have thrown away a good swim and good bike by coupling them with a run time that was way worse than I know I could have done. I didn't expect to do a 2-hour half marathon like I can when I'm only running; I did hope to do 2:10 or 2:20 at the very most. So to know I was at least two miles ahead of Danielle, and to know she was running the pace I could run, kept me moving. I know she wanted it that way too.

So I also saw her at mile 12 and she ran up to me, slapped my hand, and told me how strong I was looking. Frankly, I don't know how I looked, but I figured it was awful - I could feel how gritty my skin was with salt and sweat and I knew that despite my attempt to sunscreen, I was burning. But she really looked strong!

Which was a pretty big change from a lot of people around me. One guy, a really athletic-looking 24-year-old, was walking. I caught up to him and just knew something was wrong, so I said hi and asked how he was doing. He said he needed salt, so I gave him a packet of Jelly Bellys. This was around mile 11, so I knew I wasn't going to take in another pack myself. It made me feel good to help, but I was disappointed that I didn't see him start to run.

I had told Danielle that I was going to go out conservatively and when I got to mile 10, if I had enough gas left in the tank, I would run the last 5k like a 5k. Well, I didn't have enough left for that - at mile 12, I wasn't even sure I had enough to do a good sprint to the finish line. But I did - when I came back into town, I was running alone and so many people were calling out my number and cheering for me, yelling "Way to go girl!" and other positive things - so I found it, and I turned and sprinted to the finish. I saw John take a picture as I crossed, and suddenly it was over!

Run time: 2:26:13 (approximately 11-minute miles)

TOTAL: 6:33:57; I'm confused about age group place, but I think it's 15 out of 22. I don't know what my overall place is; I think it's 290, but I'm not sure out of how many. And it doesn't matter - in my mind, I kicked ass.

One other note: The guy who challenged me to beat him did 6:14:36, so he will not be doing the Kirkland sprint tri in a skirt. I had seen him twice, once on each loop, so I pretty much knew I was behind. Strangely enough, it wasn't my run that caused me not to beat him - he beat me in the swim by 3 minutes and the bike by 15, and the run only by 2. So...actually, it was my run: had I run the entire time, I might have been able to do it. I was at 4:06 before the run; I would have needed to do just under 10 minute miles to come in at 6:14. But that doesn't matter either: I ran my own race for pretty much no reason, and had a great time doing it.

Saturday, July 22, 2006

Ready to go

My transition bag is packed. My wetsuit and Bento Box (which had something sticky at the bottom of it) are washed. My tires are pumped up (don't know why, since I'll do that again in the morning). I have a ton of Sport Beans, Power Bars, and GU ready to eat.

I've printed out directions from home to Lake Stevens (even though I know the way), Lake Stevens to the hotel, the hotel to the Olive Garden where Danielle and I will try not to drink wine tonight, the hotel back to Lake Stevens. The only thing I haven't done is looked up where the closest Starbucks is to the hotel. I will need my coffee in the morning!

So I'm a little nutty and very prepared. Tomorrow is the big day!

Friday, July 21, 2006

Just resting

I "slept in" until 6:15 a.m. today. How pathetic is that!

I'm still feeling fairly calm, but getting a little nervous about the heat. I bought Endurolytes today, and despite what people say about not trying something new on race day and despite knowing better, I might. Probably I'll just carry them and use them if I'm experiencing cramping, or if my forehead gets scratchy from all the salt.

Thursday, July 20, 2006

Preparing for the end

I keep thinking about all the cool things I can do when my race is over.

-- Sleep past 4:30 a.m. regularly
-- Stay up past 10 p.m. regularly
-- Diet!
-- Wakeboard (or attempt to)
-- Mountain bike (or attempt to)
(these last two things I haven't done because I'm not risking injury by taking on a new sport now)

I'm still looking forward - very much so - to the race. I'm looking forward to the excitement of that morning, starting the swim, ending the swim, cruising on my bike, starting the run, and of course finishing. But I'm also looking forward to the great sleep I'll get that night, sleeping in Monday morning, and starting to plan the rest of my year (marathon training and sprint tri fun).

I still don't feel nervous. The race will be what it will be. However, a co-worker has issued me a challenge: If I beat him at Lake Stevens, he will do the Kirkland sprint tri in a skirt (like the one I did STP in).

Well, I'm sure beating him will be very difficult for me, so I plan to use the motivation if I start to falter. But I plan to just get into a happy place, accept problems if they arise, and just keep moving. I have a new song to run to (not that I get to run with an mp3 player much since I have so many great running partners now, but still) - it's "Move Along" by the All-American Rejects. "All you got to keep is strong, move along move along like I know ya do" - that's me. All I have to keep is strong. I will listen to this song over and over again prior to the race so it gets stuck in my head, and since I don't know any other of the lyrics, all I can sing is this one.

Although I had so much fun singing on STP that I might have to think of other songs to sing while racing. That would certainly keep my heart rate in the right place, wouldn't it!

So this morning I met Nancy at 5:15 for half of our usual run - just a 30 minute jog, then I met Jessi for a swim/bike brick. We did 40 minutes of each at a very comfortable pace. Strangely, I actually had a little water panic today - I got water up my nose twice, and that was uncomfortable and startling - but I recovered very quickly and I'm not even sure my stroke changed. Also, the sun was in a bad place over the water, so it made unilateral breathing difficult. I did switch to my less-comfortable side and felt so-so; it was enough to get me past the crazy-can't-see part.

Tomorrow will be a total rest day; Saturday will be a mini-tri (like today, but in the correct order with fast transitions), then Sunday the race! I can't believe it's here - and I feel calm about it!

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Riding the Lake Stevens course...or not

So yesterday I took half a day off from work to go back up to Lake Stevens to ride the bike course one more time. I did it in early May once and just wanted to see it again, prepare a gearing strategy, etc.

Well, I looked at my cleats yesterday morning and the tip of the left cleat was completely broken off - meaning, would not clip in anymore. So I asked Danielle to pick up new cleats for me before she met me here at work to go up to Lake Stevens (about an hour away). Wendy, another triathlete doing the Lake Stevens 70.3, joined us for the ride as well.

We get up to Lake Stevens, eat a yummy vegetarian lunch Danielle brought us, pump up our bike tires, put on sunscreen, and then I go to try out my new cleats. I can't clip in. Turns out, there's more than one size of Look cleats - and my pedals require the smaller size. So the cleats Danielle got me were too big for my pedals! No ride for me! (Lake Stevens is tiny - no bike shop - and had we tried to drive to a nearby city, find a bike shop, and then drive back, we wouldn't have time to ride before Danielle and I had to be back home.)

So I felt awful for Wendy and Danielle, who expected to get at least something of a workout, and I wanted them to ride without me. They didn't want to, though, so instead we spent the time doing something probably equally as useful: driving the bike course and discussing different parts of it, what gears we'd be in, where we'd need to be careful, where we could let loose on the downhills, etc. Then we went to find the transition area and check out the water (it's warm), then we drove the run course. There's a fairly long hill on an out-and-back part - that won't be that exciting. All the way up to go down...but then do that in reverse. And, I think, twice. At least I'm a hill climber. Unfortunately, though, there's little shade for much of the run course and it's supposed to be 90 degrees. I think I'm going to make the strategic decision to carry my own water in my fuel belt to ensure I have enough.

I did work out yesterday though: I ran for an hour in the morning, then swam in Lake Sammamish. My run was perfect - no knee pain at all - then I learned something really important on the swim. I had bought a $35 Costco wetsuit just for fun, and because it's cute. I figured I might wear it for a late-season sprint like Danskin.

Well, it's not buoyant AT ALL. It was like swimming in a bathing suit, which is fine, but why should I waste precious transition time on a "wetsuit" that doesn't offer any buoyancy or even warmth? And what's the point of the thing, anyway? Must be psychological comfort - it certainly wasn't physiological. So I made another decision: despite the fact that the water in Lake Stevens is at least as warm as Lake Sammamish, I will wear my full wetsuit for the half-IM swim. I'm choosing to be warm but buoyant (and have to work less hard) versus comfortable temperature-wise, but having to work much harder to swim. In the wetsuit, I barely have to move my legs; yesterday in the Costco thing, I needed to actually kick.

This morning I wanted to ride my bike to work, but John had a bit of a tantrum about me riding alone, so I slept in (until 6 a.m. - and I had gone to bed at 9 because I was in a bad mood, so that was a ton of sleep for me!) and drove with him to drop off the kids, then rode the rest of the way in to work together. It was actually quite nice. I worked on cadence - I switched my bike computer to show cadence instead of speed and tried to keep it above 90 all the time. I found it really hard, especially on the parts of the route where I like to go really fast. However, John's computer was showing mph, so I was able to ask him, and I was surprised to find that despite feeling "slow" pedaling much faster, I was keeping my normal speeds through the rollers. I wonder if this is an indication that if I really work on cadence when I ride outside, will I get so much faster even when I am in a big gear? Because I felt like I wasn't working at all, but my speed was still high. I don't know why I feel like I need to be working hard all the time...but maybe I need to train my legs to love high cadence, then they'll learn to love it in a big gear, and THEN I'll be working hard again!

Monday, July 17, 2006

Back to reality

So I'm back at work and trying to get back into my routine for the week...but I still need to be tapering for my "A" race on Sunday.

I jumped in to the Pro Club's boot camp class this morning for a fun workout - Danielle was subbing for the regular instructor, so I knew it would be okay. It was a decent amount of cardio for the beginning part (running, walking lunges, etc) then strength training with bands, body weight and the body bar, then a four-mile run outside. My knee still hurts, but I was able to run pretty well (probably a 9.5 to 10 minute mile pace - that's cool for me this week for sure).

I need to get back to meal-tracking too, so here goes. Next week starts the hard-core diet, though.

Today's data:

Pre-workout: Vitatop and coffee with milk: 130 cals
Breakfast: English muffin with sausage and egg: 400 cals

Boot camp, including 4-mile run: 600 calories burned

Sunday, July 16, 2006

STP Ride Report

Yay! I did it! And it was way fun!

I was the most irritable, mean, yucky person on Friday afternoon when I got home from Germany. I yelled at my husband A TON (mostly because he failed to bring my bike in for the service I wanted prior to this 200 mile bike ride - and the reason I didn't do it myself before I left was that I was busy helping him with something else) and I just felt crabby. I chalked it up to needing sleep and went to bed at 9:30, after preparing all my stuff and going through lists of all the things I needed to bring, needed to put in John's car, and needed to do to my bike.

I slept so-so - thank goodness I was actually tired, or else I probably wouldn't have slept at all. I was very nervous and woke often with weird dreams (one of them, about John unplugging my cell phone from the charger to plug his in - and I screamed at him in my dream, of course - actually sort of came true: when John met us at the first rest stop, he took my phone's battery because his was dead. FLAKE). I also remembered a few things that I'd forgotten on my lists (headlight, cleat covers, etc).

So, I got up to the alarm at 4 a.m., showered, and made coffee. I decided last-minute to change my clothing strategy - I was going to wear a bike tank top with regular black shorts - but all that food I ate in Germany was making me believe I looked extra-fat - so I decided to wear my Terry skort and a different pink shirt. I still thought I looked fat in the shirt, but at least the skort hid my tummy and thighs. Plus, it gives me a silly thrill to ride past men all decked out in team cycling gear when I'm wearing a skort, and I did hope for some opportunity to ride well.

For breakfast, I ate a bagel and cream cheese and two hard-boiled eggs, but I was so excited and anxious that I had to force it down - and I couldn't eat it all. But I knew there would be ample opportunity to eat throughout the day.

Jessi showed up at 4:45, and Danielle was a few minutes late at 5:05. Jessi's fiance took a few pictures, and we were off. Matthew was waiting a mile down the road. I had decided we would start from home in Renton, rather than in Seattle, because I didn't want to get up even earlier, suffer through STP traffic to get to Seattle, just to ride back to Renton - and even though this cut a few miles off the trip, I felt - and still feel - that I completed the ride. The course went through my city probably 3 or 4 miles from my house, so we caught up with the earliest riders somewhere around 5:30.

Our strategy was to ride 17 to 18 mph all day on flat roads, and stay together in a pace line. Early on, both Jessi and I were feeling like this is just too easy, we should be riding harder - but Danielle kept reminding us that it's a very long day and we can't let ourselves burn out too early. So, we pretty much stuck to plan. Our plan also included stopping at every rest stop, but briefly - hit the Porta-Potties if we had to, fill up on water, and go. We were pretty efficient for probably the first 3/4 of the ride; towards the end of the day, we definitely slowed down at the rest stops. Maybe that was me, procrastinating. :-)

(Quick aside about Jessi, I just have to announce to everyone who might read both of our blogs that she is SO UNBELIEVABLY STRONG. She hadn't trained for a one-day ride and her longest prior to STP was 70 miles. At the end she was still pushing hard and looked amazing. I was so psyched she decided to come with us and share in the pulling. She is a force to be reckoned with! You can read her report here.)

The first 100 miles is incredibly easy. There's one hill around mile 45 or so, but, as Danielle said, "It's no Lakemont." (That refers to a two-mile climb that's one of the steepest, longest hills around here - that Danielle and I LOVE to climb, mostly because we can. And I like it because you get a 3-mile downhill on the other side.) My hill strategy was just to do it easily - not push hard, not race, just stay comfortable - and my heart rate told me I did, barely breaking 160.

Right after the second major rest stop (mile 55), I got a terrible, sharp pain right in the center of my right knee. Last time I had this pain, I couldn't ride my bike anymore - had to get off and walk. This wasn't quite as bad, so I just sort of tested it and pushed through it. I found that dropping my heel A LOT - more than you're supposed to, so my foot stayed completely flat throughout the pedal rotation - made it better, but pretty much I felt it the entire 150 miles more. Danielle thinks I need to get my bike re-fit for me, especially since any knee pain I feel running is completely different (and seems due to muscle fatigue in my quads, not joint trouble) - so I'm probably going to do that soon (but not until after the half-IM - I don't want to change anything before that).

We got in some good pacelines, sometimes with other riders we didn't know, and made it to Centralia, the half-way point, at 11:40 a.m. In Centralia, we ate big plates of spaghetti, and the sun came out. Up until then, it had been bright but cloudy - what I'd consider perfect biking weather. As much as I like sun, clouds are better so I don't get as hot or sunburn. I still felt very fresh and happy, despite the knee issue.

The miles from 100 until 145 were most definitely the hardest for me. 96 to 108 DRAGGED - I thought time was standing still. I'm thinking my body was busy dealing with the food I'd thrown in it, plus it didn't know that riding more than 100 was possible, so it took a while for it to catch up with my brain that was telling it, time to move! Got another 100 to do!

Also, 100 to 145 gets some rolling hills. Nothing huge - on a regular ride, I doubt I'd even get out of my big ring (but that's because I'm a masher anyway), but after a century, they were hills. And I started to notice how every hill, even slight ones, were taking a lot more out of me than they should. My legs felt heavy and full and I just got tired so easily - but then as soon as we were back on a flat or in a paceline, I was back to being pretty much fine (knee pain excepted).

Actually, here's how I would describe the two halves of the ride: the first half is the easiest century ever. The second half is the second easiest century ever, but when it comes right after the first half, it turns into something harder.

I sang a lot on the way. Some of it was quietly, just for me, and some was for other riders - like for this guy with an Oscar The Grouch shirt who I passed no less than 4 times (I ride faster, but take longer stops, I guess), I sang, "Oh I love trash!" And I sang the Sponge Bob song for people with that jersey on, and I made up my own song - to the tune of "I love to laugh" from Mary Poppins, "I love to draft!" I'm a big dork, but I entertained myself.

I also yelled at a guy for passing on the right. Danielle yelled at him for wearing earphones. He claimed he could hear us, but later, Jessi said that when we were getting towards a rest stop, everyone started yelling, "Slowing!" like we're supposed to, and that guy ripped his earbud out and said, "What's happening?" But I guess he was a fairly new rider and there were no hard feelings - when we saw him at the finish line, he actually wanted to take a picture with us.

At mile 162, we met up with a group called the Green River Riders. We'd seen them a bunch of times throughout the day - one guy had a pink helmet and pink wheels, so Danielle was all jealous, and Jessi rode up to the guy to find out who made the wheels so she could get them too. We left at the same time as them from the Goble rest stop and quickly realized they were keeping a pace just slightly harder than ours - so we hooked on to their pace line and held something more like 19-20, at times up to 22 mph. It ROCKED. They were really cool people - they actually live fairly close to Danielle and me - and although we did offer to help pull, they didn't take us up on the offer. We split off at the next rest stop at mile 175, but then decided we wanted to hang with them a little longer, so we found them and asked if we could. So we continued the great pace until mile 188, the last rest stop. They didn't stop, but we did - I needed to go to the potty. :-)

We definitely took a while at that last rest stop - frankly, I was reluctant to hurry. I was afraid I was going to be slow, and I warned the others that I might only be up to 15-16 mph for the end. Well, that turned out to not be true in the least. We kept the good pace most of the way; for a while we stayed behind a couple of guys going about 17, but for some of it, we were still up between 18 and 22. The last few miles, though, are in the city of Portland - and HILLS! Some of them significantly steep, but all of them pretty short. But again, hills were sucking the life out of me, so I just slowed to something easy and tried to spin up. (John told me later that compared to everyone in every pace line I was in, I was always at a slower cadence, even when first, which says I'm still mashing too much. Drat. I need to work harder on that.)

At the very end, Jessi and Matthew were ahead and they made a light that Danielle and I didn't. Although we'd been riding fairly well alone for these last 16 miles, in Portland there were suddenly a TON of people, so we couldn't really catch back up, and I think it felt good to both of them to just go hard to the end. Danielle and I finished just after they did; my bike computer said 11 hours, 8 minutes. Average speed 17.1 mph. 190 miles completed! (The full ride would have been 204; we cut off 14 by starting at my house. I felt like that was okay, though - I know I could have done another 10 or 14 if I needed to, and I'm calling myself someone who has completed a double century despite the missing miles.)

Here are some other random observations:
-- Number of flat tires Danielle counted: 20
-- Number of flat tires I, the queen of flats, got: ZERO! Really!
-- Number of times I dropped my chain: 1
-- Number of times I passed the guy in the Oscar the Grouch jersey and sang to him: 4
-- Number of beers it took me to lose the ability to talk post-ride: 1 (yes, really)
-- Number of 180-calorie Hostess cupcakes I consumed on the ride: 3
-- Number of times John stopped to offer his floor pump to riders with flats: 6 (isn't that nice of him?)

Friday, July 14, 2006

Hi-ho, hi-ho, it's off to Portland I go!

I'm back from Germany and now it's time to go to sleep...tomorrow I ride my bike 200 miles to Portland! Think happy no-jet-lag thoughts for me!

Thursday, July 13, 2006

I'm getting nervous

Yeah. I was really looking forward to STP...and now that it's two days away, I'm really nervous! What if I forgot how to ride my bike?

Okay, that's silly, but still. What if I feel yucky? What if I get bored with riding? What if I'm slower than I thought I'd be?

What if my bike breaks down? What if I get a flat every 20 miles? What if I can't sleep ever again?

Okay, I'm dumb. But still...being really far away from my bike, bike clothes, PowerBars, and everything else is kind of freaking me out.

Food thoughts from Germany

-- Coke Light rocks. It's so much better than diet coke. Can I import it?
-- German food...not good for diets. And frankly, not that good anyway.
-- Ice cream...on every street corner...not good for Jessica. :-)
-- Beer! Lots of beer. Yum yum yum.
-- "Berliner Weisse" is disgusting. It's beer plus some kind of juice or syrup - super-sweet - and it comes red or green. But hey, when in Deutschland...(It's like the time that I ate durian in Singapore. DISGUSTING. But had to try it.)
-- I'm here for work, and we're working in a lab. Here's what the lab provides for food:
in the morning: a tray of cut fruit, whole fruit, and sandwiches.
for lunch: huge trays of food from a restaurant.
for lunch dessert: cake
for afternoon snack: ice cream
for late afternoon snack: more sandwiches and fruit
all day: soda and candy
So pretty much they feed us all day long and they get a little offended if we don't eat. Kind of makes it hard to stick to a reasonable diet! Oh, and they'll make us cappuccinos all day if we want them, and of course they come with a cookie.

-- So much other good food! Italian, French, Vietnamese, Japanese (sushi) - that is pretty crazy. We're eating way too well.
-- I can't find German Chocolate Cake on any menu. That makes me a little sad.
-- I can find German chocolate, though...and that makes me happy. :-)

I went out last night until 2 a.m. so I didn't wake up to exercise. I probably will do something tonight.

Hee hee. I find it funny that this post says it's 2 a.m. when I actually wrote it at 11 a.m. I didn't bother to change the time zone of my computer.

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Hitting the gym in Germany

All that sleep I got Monday night must have been stored up for future use: I couldn't get to sleep last night (finally forced myself to turn off the lights at 12:10 a.m.) then I woke up every hour! In fact, at 1 a.m. I didn't believe my clock - I had to get up and look at other clocks to be sure it really was 1 a.m. I thought it was time to get up already. At 5, I couldn't stay in bed any longer.

So I got 5 hours of broken sleep, but I actually feel quite good. At 6 a.m. I went to the gym in the hotel. I wanted to do some speed work on the treadmill, then lift weights, but I had a feeling it wasn't going to happen that way - and it didn't. My legs are still very sore. All the pain is in the muscles, though, not joints, so I know it's just going to take some rest to fix this, and I do feel fairly confident that I will be ready to ride STP on Saturday.

So I ran for 15 minutes at 10.0 on the treadmill. Yeah, that's kilometers, not miles, but it made me feel good anyway. :-) Then I did most of my normal strength training routine, with the exception of any lower body work - I skipped lunges and squats for obvious reasons. I also spent about twice as long on really good, deep stretches, and now I actually feel great!

However, my hamstrings and hip flexors are still tight and my quads hurt if I make them work hard. I was happy to see, though, that despite my extremely limited weight lifting over the last few weeks, my arms still have the right stuff.

Oh, one other funny thing! The weights are in kilograms, not pounds. It was pretty fun trying to remember the math - is it 2.2 kg = 1 lb? (I'm online, I could look it up...ah! I was right. So where I normally use 12 lb weights, I did 13.2, and where I normally do 10, I did 8.8.)

Anyway, no meal tracking, but I did eat fairly healthy yesterday, with the exception of an Apfelstrudel (yum!). I am in Germany, after all...

Double sleep

Okay, so yesterday afternoon we walked all over Berlin - which was great. It's a pretty incredible city. However, it was a lot of work to walk. We probably did 5 miles or so. Fun! When I got back to the hotel, I pretty much went to bed (9 p.m. Berlin time) - and SLEPT. I normally sleep six hours. I woke up naturally at 5 a.m., so after a good 8 hour sleep - then read for an hour. Reading made me tired and my bed was cozy, so I went back to sleep - and slept until 10 a.m.! Which was the hour I was supposed to meet my co-workers to head to work! AHHHH!

Fortunately they didn't call until 10:10, by which time I had showered and was half-dressed. I was downstairs at 10:18 with a ton of apologies. But that was 12 hours of sleep!

On the plus slide, I feel great today - no jet lag whatsoever. I don't plan to work out today, but maybe lift weights in the evening if I still feel great.

I'm also not meal-tracking this week - I'm not eating like mad, but it just isn't practical. Half the time I have no idea what I'm eating anyway, so it would be pretty inaccurate.

Monday, July 10, 2006

Seafair Half Marathon Report and other random musings from Germany

For future reference: Not my most brilliant idea, running a half-marathon in the morning then getting on an airplane for a 9-hour trip. It's about 7 hours in, and I haven't gotten out of my seat in a while, and I'm not actually sure I can. Every muscle in my legs is sore, from my hip flexors on down to my toes. Seriously. Nothing sounds better than a massage.

Plus, I can't obsessively check the race results site to see when official results are posted. I want to know how I did!

well, I sort of know. I know that I started out feeling pretty good, especially since I'm not sure when the last time I ran long was. Aleks really really wanted to beat two hours, which I knew I could do when I felt good, and I knew I could do on that particular course, since I did it last year. Hmm. Let me talk about last year for a moment.

I had planned in January to run the full marathon at Seafair in July, but I was completely undisciplined in my training...and then in May, I injured my foot and couldn't run at all for a month. So I decide to do the half-marathon at Seafair; I had done exactly one half-marathon before, and it was in Seattle the prior November. However, I did that race with a couple of friends, and we ran 11 to 12 minute miles for the first hour. I dropped them almost by accident - I meant to run ahead, then walk for a while so they could catch up - but I never stopped running. I did that first one in about 2:26, I think, but probably could have done 2:10 or 2:15.
So I didn't have much time to train between June, when I could run again, and July - I basically did a couple of 10+ mile runs and called it good. I planned to run 10 minute miles the entire way and finish in 2:10. I had no dreams of going sub-two.

But you know, when the excitement of the crowd hits you, something happens, and you just go. I realized immediately, by mile 1, that I was going 9 minute miles, and I thought, hey, I'll just do this until I can't anymore, then go back to plan.

By mile 7, I was at 1 hour, 1 minute, I think - nice! I finally catch up to the two-hour pacer, and I stay with that group for a minute, then I realize we're running downhill and I should just stay ahead, just in case. Because now that I've done 7 miles in nine minute miles, I'm doing the math and realizing I could go sub-two. And that sounds so great!

Of course, I was such a newbie that I didn't know about the need to have GU or some kind of carbohydrate drink on the run - I knew you shouldn't do something new if you haven't trained with it, so I only took in water. And by the 10 mile mark, I was really in pain. I pushed through, knowing the 2 hour pacer was so close to me, but I was not psyched. I also was feeling chafing between my legs and below my heart rate monitor - oh, and my HR was in the 170s THE ENTIRE TWO HOURS.

I got to around 12.8 miles or so - I could see the left turn to the finish - and burst into tears. I stopped short. I just couldn't run anymore. The pacer passed me and said, "You have to stay in front of me to beat two hours!" So I started running again, reluctantly.

I crossed the finish line at 1:59 on the gun clock, 1:58 on my watch. The pacer had been ahead of schedule slightly and was jogging in place before the finish. I was completely bonked - I didn't see my family, fortunately they found me, and they had to get me something to eat. All I wanted to do was sit.

So this year was different: I've run more half marathons since then (though some were trained through, with results of 2:05, 2:06 or so) and I did that one in Kirkland in May in 1:57.
We start out at perfect 9 minute miles, and then basically hold the pace throughout. A few miles were slightly faster - at one point we were about 30 seconds ahead of a 9 minute pace - but pretty much we were on target mile for mile. My fuel/water strategy for today was a new test: Jelly Belly Sport Beans, which I love while cycling, one pack at mile 4, 8, and 11. I actually did 4, 7.5, and 10 because of where the water stations were, but it worked. I didn't choke despite having to chew, and I could eat them prior to the water stations and be okay running without carrying water.

I did the Jelly Belly thing instead of GU because Jelly Bellys make me happy. I'm glad it worked - I think for the half-iron I will carry two GUs and two Jelly Belly packets so I can choose whatever I feel like having. It's good to have options.

The course has to be the best-supported course ever - water stations every two miles (slightly less, in fact), great volunteers, and fun music in places along the way. So every time I felt like maybe I was starting to get thirsty, a water station appeared.

Around mile 11, I could no longer happily keep up with Danielle and Aleks. I'd been feeling like I was working harder than I could sustain for a while, but when my heart rate wasn't coming down on a downhill and was hanging out in the low 170s downhill, high 170s flat, low 180s uphill, that says to me that I'm working closer to 5k race pace, not half-marathon. I had really hoped to be able to pick it up a lot for the last 5k, but when I got there, I knew it wasn't happening. I got behind them from a water station, then caught up, then started falling behind again, and I didn't work to pick back up with them. I went internal to fight my own head and finish the race alone.
By this time, I think my shoelaces were too tight, because my feet hurt in a new and exciting way they've never hurt before. I don't think I've run that distance with my Yankz shoelaces on, and I think they need adjusting. I also was feeling some weirdness in my quads - kind of like the muscle was pulling away from the bone. It was weird and made me think about chicken legs, which was a thought requiring immediate banishment.

The last 3/4 to half a mile is uphill. You can look up and see where everyone turns to go to the finish, and from last year I knew the finish was just 1/10 of a mile from the turn. I could see Aleks and Danielle up ahead, maybe just 1/10 of a mile, and to my surprise, I started passing people on the hill. It was actually kind of weird to experience - I didn't feel slow, really, but I didn't feel awesome. I guess that final hill affects everyone. I did have the thought in my head - hey, I'm not crying this year!

After the turn, it's downhill to the finish. I found something left and turned on the speed - but this time, my head was thinking about all of my race finish photos, where I always look twisted around. I wanted my body to look straight up and down and strong, so I tried to focus on great form while getting a nice long stride to the finish. The gun clock read 1:58:something when I crossed the finish line; my watch said 1:58:10, I think. So I'm fairly certain I beat last year's time by a matter of seconds, not even a whole minute. Hey, nothing wrong with consistency!
The post-race stuff deserves mention for anyone considering doing this race. Man, Seafair knows how to put on a great race! The post-race athlete's food was awesome - it included watermelon, sour patch kids, pretzels, bagels, Oreo cookies, and best of all, popsicles and ice cream sandwiches! Yum yum yum. Oh, and the finisher's medals were cool.

So the race was good, I definitely think it should be part of my summer every year. It was also the first running race I've ever repeated! I can say the course was different, but it was fairly similar. The primary difference between this year and last was that this year was warmer by about 10 degrees. I think it started around 60 last year, and it was 70 this year. Of course, where else can you run a summer marathon and not have serious heat or humidity? Yay Seattle!

So now, on to Germany. My plan this week is to do strength training in my hotel room with my bands and body weight, and do short runs (5k or so a couple of times). I'd love to run to see the city, but I'm not sure how safe that is - I'll have to find out. I'm traveling with a woman from work who runs, but she says she only does the treadmill. (I cannot imagine choosing the treadmill over a run with another person in a new city, but whatever.)

All that was written on the airplane. Now I'm here in Germany. It's 4 a.m. at home, 1 p.m. here. I'm feeling like I can stay up until 8 or 9 p.m. Berlin time so that I can get on this schedule, so that's good. Let's look up my race results!

Net time: 1:58:07 - one minute behind Danielle, 35 seconds behind Aleks. 9:03 pace. 44 out of 163 in my age group; 192 out of 863 women. Last year I did 1:58:21, so I was 14 seconds faster this year. I probably spent 14 seconds crying last year, so I'm not any faster. But that's okay - last year it was an "A" race, this year it was a decision I made on Tuesday to run. It's all part of a goal I have for the rest of my life: remain in half-marathon running shape forever.

Saturday, July 08, 2006

Really quick, before I do a half marathon and go to Germany

Seriously, that's what I'm doing tomorrow. What in the world was I thinking? Hopefully I'll have a minute to tell you whether it was a great idea or horrible once I'm in Germany.

Today I rode a little over two hours with John, in what passes for heat in Seattle (I think it was around 80 degrees). But riding with John sucks, because his blood sugar gets low (he's a type-1 diabetic), and he gets tired, and he actually decided at two points to WALK his bike. WHATEVER! I'm okay with "recovery" rides for me, workout rides for him - but walking the bike? That's giving up, and I don't deal with that very well.

Anyway, I'm really tired, so heading to bed. And I really am doing a half-marathon tomorrow, and I really am getting on an airplane a few hours later to go to Germany. Don't tell me I'm an idiot, my family has already done that many times today. :-)

Friday, July 07, 2006

The miracle worker

Three posts in one day, I know. But this really does merit its own entry.

I went to the "miracle worker"shiatsu guy today. He took one look at me and knew that my right knee often bothers me and I lose feeling in my toes and feet when I exercise.

He rubbed on me in all different places, made me drink baking soda and water, and cracked every knuckle in my fingers and toes and cracked my neck and back. Then he pronounced me healthy again and told me not to eat cherries, strawberries, or orange juice.

Amazingly, I do feel better! We'll see how I feel tomorrow and for how long this lasts, but hey - it felt good (and painful) and clearly the medical doctors couldn't help me.

A question about swimming...

Every time I swim, I get a stuffy nose for hours afterwards. It's incredibly annoying. It happens in the pool and in open water. Does anyone have any idea of how I can prevent this, or fix it afterward? Today I tried a nasal decongestant, which doesn't seem to be working. I've gone through half a box of tissues already this morning...

If this is addiction, I don't want any 12-step

I'm no fun to be around when I can't exercise and I'm not feeling well. So rather than continue feeling miserable, or fasting again to try to have my blood drawn again, I decided to do a full-on hard-core workout this morning. And now I feel awesome!

I still have the lump on my forehead, and the back of my neck still hurts slightly, and I'm sneezing as I always do after a long swim, but my heart and mind feel joyful.

(Oh, the title of the post: John keeps telling me I'm addicted to exercise. Okay. I'll accept that. Just don't try to fix it. It's a better addiction than food, and I am also capable of taking a rest day or two in order to exercise better.)

Here's what I did: I woke up without an alarm to ensure that my body was fully rested. I went back to getting my coffee first-thing - I think changing my routine at this point is stupid, and I don't know why I did it. I went to Idylwood to swim (there were a zillion people there again, which was nice) and did three laps - just over a mile. Then I chatted for a few minutes (I wasn't working on fast transitions), and then took off for a 23 mile ride around the lake. I'm not psyched about the lake route, because I've done it a zillion times, but I just hate the Sammamish River Trail (so boring) so I figured the lake would be better. I went comfortably hard for the first half, then for the second half, the east side of the lake, there was this guy who stopped at a light I was stopped at. He was probably 6 feet tall, 175 lbs - looked very strong. Big guy, but not fat. He was a commuter, probably, based on the fact he was carrying a bag, but he had a nice bike and was dressed to ride (real shoes, bike clothes).

He started out behind me, and I just wanted to go fast...I guess I wanted to make it hard for him to pass. I kept it around 20-22 mph. There's one little hill on the route, and he got ahead of me before the hill and beat me up it, but I got in the aero bars and sailed past him on the downhill (which surprised me, based on our weight difference). He passed me back and picked up the speed - now we're going 24-25 mph on a slight incline - and I don't want him to think that I am only keeping up because I'm drafting, so I hang back about 5 bike lengths. And I stay there, and I stay there when the hill gets steeper, and I get a little closer on the flats (there's really no downhill on this part of the route), and I catch up all the way at a light, and then at the end we're going 24-25 still and flying past cars that are standing still in traffic. At the last light I catch him again, and then our routes split off. It was about 10 miles of hard riding - at one point my heart rate was 182, and I think it was hanging out in the high 160s on the flats and slight grades to the high 170s when it got steeper. On the flats, though, I felt like I could push harder - if it were a race, I could have overtaken him.

So after not riding hard for quite a while, this was great - I guess I still have it. :-)

I didn't run because it was just getting too late. I felt like I could, though.

So I'm happy! Yay!

Today's data:

Pre-workout: 1 Vitatop, 100 cals
Breakfast: Alternative bagel, ham, cheese: 215 cals
Lunch: Yogurt, granola, fruit: 400 cals
total so far: 715 cals I should eat a snack

Swim 1 mile
Bike 23 miles
Calories burned: 1200

Thursday, July 06, 2006

Truly, I am not a hypochondriac

My brain is coming out from my forehead. I think finally, I've come to the last straw, and all those '80s song lyrics that have been filling my brain are going to be pushed out to make room for other, more important things. At least I hope that's the part that will come out.

Okay, seriously, I woke up with a huge bump on my forehead - it's the entire length of my forehead and about 1.5 inches wide - slightly off center to the right. It's very definitely visible by other people (like, I know I analyze my face a lot more than others, but this is not some tiny wrinkle only I can see: it's obvious). It hurts like a bruise, but it's not discolored.

Then I went to the lab to have blood drawn - no workout of course, I don't even think I heard my alarm this morning, and I did go to bed early and planned to run - and they fussed with a needle for a while, in one arm, then the other, then the first again - but no blood came out. At all. So they told me to try again later.

So I'm still fasting, which makes meal-tracking quite easy!

Wednesday, July 05, 2006


I feel exactly like I did yesterday. My doctor's office opens at 8:30. 10 minutes until I can call. Man I hope I can get an appointment today and there's some magic pill that makes me all better.

On the other hand, maybe I've learned something finally: I didn't work out this morning! I even went to the Pro Club to meet the woman I was supposed to lift with to tell her I wasn't going to be there (I didn't have her phone number).

Later: Got back from my doctor's office. It seems my random collection of symptoms leads nowhere. I'm so frustrated I almost cried. I'm going to hide in my office the rest of the day and pout.

Meal tracking:

Breakfast: "the alternative bagel," ham, and cheese: 215 cals
Starbucks: Cranberry granola bar, milk in americano: 475 cals
Lunch: Lentil soup, turkey breast, oyster crackers: 300 cals
total so far: 990 cals

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

I'm famous, and in pain

Okay, the first part isn't exactly true. Last September or October, though, I wrote up my experiences with dramatic weight loss for a friend of a friend at MSN. They wanted to start this new story type on MSN Health about personal stories of weight loss, and it was supposed to be a "New Year, New You" sort of thing and launch in January. Well, it's July and they finally published the thing - and here it is:

For some reason, the pictures are broken today. Hopefully they'll fix that. I love my before photo, because it is just so awful. Seriously, it's got to be one of the worst pictures of me on record - so it's perfect for a before, because it's so real, and actually makes me happy: it reminds me of my accomplishment and where I could be again if I don't watch it.

So, now for the pain. I have no idea what is wrong with me, but I have to see my doctor tomorrow. Here is the list of pains:

-- Pain in both sides of the back of the base of my head (back of my neck), especially when looking up or when touched
-- Pain in my obliques
-- Pain in my chest
-- My tongue feels too big for my mouth
-- Pain in my throat, specifically on the left side. It feels like there's a hole from behind my nose way back there to, well, the spots on the back of my head/neck that hurt
-- Pain in the left side of my nose, mostly right on the hard part in the middle
-- Pain when I swallow
-- Hurts to cough (expand chest/belly)
-- Ears are itchy

And this morning, my lower lip was swollen and my mouth didn't want to close - the lower lip wanted to flop open, and my chin and upper lip all sort of felt like I was on novocaine.

Is this some sort of sinusitis? I don't have a runny nose or other cold symptoms, though. It's really weird...and because I can't diagnose it and haven't felt this way ever before, I'm going to let my doctor have a crack at me.

I'm traveling for my job to Germany on Sunday; I need to be healthy. Plus, I return Friday (the 14th) and do the STP ride on the 15th, so I really need to get and stay in perfect health through July.

In exercise news, I ran a nice six miles this morning on the trail (55 minutes). And I'm not talking about what got eaten today at the Fourth of July party we attended, but it most definitely did not involve brownies. Definitely not at all. Nor did I eat chocolate-chip cookies - homemade of course. Ha.

Sunday, July 02, 2006

How to make donuts, by Camille

This isn't about diet, or exercise. I just wanted to write this down.

Camille, age 3: "You just get some brown sugar and white sugar, then you mix it up, and then and then and then you put the sprinkles on, then you put it in the oven. And then you eat it! And then you put chocolate on it." (Most of this was exclaimed while jumping up and down.)

Gabriel, age 6, and very practical: "How do you put chocolate on it if you already ate it?"

Camille: "Uh, you have to buy chocolate first."

Gabriel: "This is how I do it. I get a piece of bread, and then I cut it into a circle, and then I - I'm making a sprinkle donut - and then I put chocolate on it, and then I put the sprinkles on it, and then put it in the oven, and then take it out, and then eat it."

Camille: "That's not how you do it. That's not how you make donuts. You just get some brown sugar and some white sugar out, and then you mix it, and then you put it in the oven, and then you get it out of the oven, and put chocolate on it, and then eat it all up!"

Saturday, July 01, 2006

A gorgeous ride

Days like today are the answer to "How can you live in Seattle with all that rain?". Man, it is gorgeous - and a perfect morning for a leisurely ride. I felt like one of those girls in the video for Corinne Bailey Rae's "Put your records on" - she and a bunch of girls are cruising along through a park or something under all these trees and with sun peeking through - very romantic looking. Of course, those girls aren't wearing helmets in the video, and I think they might be wearing skirts, and probably traveling at 6 mph, but whatever. I was with them in spirit today. :-)

I didn't pay attention to speed, cadence, or anything except leading my group. For some in the group, I think it was a good workout; for others, including me, a recovery ride. And I discovered that I didn't mind it at all! I couldn't ride like that every time, but I guess it doesn't need to be push-push-push all the time.

I still burned 1100 calories and averaged 13 mph. There were a couple of long, shallow hills and I think two areas that required a granny gear (including one short, out-of-the-saddle climb). And truth be told, I couldn't have gone my normal hard pace today - I still don't feel back to normal. In fact, I feel really bloated and fat and slow - although I checked my weight today (after a big lunch after the ride) and it was 140.2 - which I can't understand at all. I expected to see 147.

I have a new plan for post-70.3 race. I'm going to go on a hard-core strict diet. I will eat perfectly every day - the right balance of fat, carbs, and protein, and the right number of calories - for two months. And I will exercise two hours a day (with appropriate during-exercise fueling, of course). This will be through September, and at the end of September I will weigh 130 or less. And I'm thinking about whether I should weigh 120. That would rock.

Oh, I forgot one thing: It doesn't rain all the time in Seattle. :-)